INDIAN Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh formally laid the foundation stone for the first line of the Mumbai Mass Rapid Transit System in a ceremony at Vikhroli on June 21.

Construction of the 11 km Versova - Andheri - Ghatkoper route is expected to get underway in October, following the signing of a 35-year BOT concession agreement by the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority and a consortium led by Reliance Energy. Valued at Rs23bn, the concession contract provides five years for construction and a 30-year operating franchise.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Master Plan envisages the construction of a 146·5 km network to augment and relieve the existing Indian Railways suburban services. Three routes are included in the first phase of the programme approved by the Maharashtra state government. Enabling works have started for the 38 km Line 2 linking Colaba, Mahim and Charkop, and surveying is underway for the 14 km Line 3 from Bandra to Kurla and Mankhurd.